Errrrrrr!!!!!!!!i Am Super I Crazy?????

Decorating By apetricek Updated 16 Oct 2008 , 2:13pm by apetricek

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apetricek Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 9:25pm
post #1 of 38

ok here goes.....I have been working with this customer for over a month now. She is ordering a cake for her child's 1st birthday. I get an email today (mind you the cake is due Saturday morning) that she may not be getting it, that she just can't see "paying that for a cake"....Here is what she wanted and what I am charging her, so tell me if I am NUTS or too expensive??
2 tiered square cake for 55-60 people with a 3D elmo jumping out of the top tier...(there are similar cakes on here like this). She wanted a birthday hat on Elmo and him holding a #1, and the child's name all made out of fondant as well.... the whole cake was to be all fondant covered. She wanted vanilla cake with chocolate mousse in one tier and banana mousse in the other tier. She also ordered a smash cake for the child as well to match the cake, also with mousse filling.
Here is the break down I gave her....55 X $4.00 a serving...
$15.00 for the elmo and smash cake
$25.oo for delivery (she is an hour and a half away from me), so her cake would be $260.00 total. She left it as "I need to talk to my husband..and let you know tomorrow" which I know means "WOW YOU ARE TOO EXPENSIVE, I AM CANCELLING"...
So please tell me that I am not crazy, or charging too much for this? I thought that I was being more than reasonable! icon_cry.gificon_cry.gif The thing that also annoys me is that I turned someone else down today, for her order~!!!!!! icon_mad.gif SOrry about the rant....just had to get some cake-loving support from all of you!

37 replies
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alidpayne Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 9:35pm
post #2 of 38

I think your price sounds very reasonable. If you have been talking to her for a month, when did you actually quote the price? If you just got around to talking about price then she may very well have been expecting a much lower price. Consumers tend to undervalue our services and are quite often shocked at the prices. It's the walmart mentality.

If you did discuss price early in the discussion then you should have gotten a contract & deposit at that time.

I know it sucks that you turned down the other order. Maybe she will come around. If she does decide she wants it you need to insist that she come and pay you in full before you make the cake.

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toodlesjupiter Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 9:35pm
post #3 of 38

I think that sounds more than fair. I don't sell mine YET, but that seems to be the ballpark I would charge in. I'm in So CA, not sure how the prices are in your area. Must be fair if you're turning down orders! Don't back down. You don't need her.

Off topic: Would you possibly share your recipe for banana mousse? Thanks and good luck!

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SugarFrosted Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 9:40pm
post #4 of 38

Sounds reasonable to me...I wish her good luck as she frantically calls around trying to find someone who will do a cake with that much detail for less. Cake civilians are so ignorant...

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JanH Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 9:42pm
post #5 of 38

Aww, sweetie, it's DEFINITELY not you - it's your customer.

Sadly, this is another example of champagne taste on a beer budget.

It's unfortunate that you lost a sale because this customer is NOT dealing in reality. (You don't go to Duff or Colette for a custom cake & speciality decorating and expect to pay Wal-Mart sheet cake prices.)

A business practice from indydebi that you might want to use in the future..... (I'm sure indydebi won't mind me quoting her.)

Originally Posted by indydebi

Before pictures are exchanged ... before design is discussed .... before any time is invested .... ask one simple question:

"How much is your budget for this cake?" which is usually followed by, "oh .... well, here's what I can do for that amount."

Avoids all of these types of problems.

Above is taken from a thread about a problem like yours:


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BabyBear3 Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 9:53pm
post #6 of 38

I have come across this alot. everyone wants something big for nothing at all -- and it just don't work that way!!!!!!

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momvarden Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 10:01pm
post #7 of 38

i think that is a great price.....i have told customers that it was to late to stop the order and that they would have to still pay for it....... i have also told customers that it was to close to the date to order a cake...and proceed to tell her that she should go to wal mart and purchase a white cake and put a toy car on the top.....she wanted a sculpted cake in 2 days. icon_mad.gif

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pinklesley1 Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 10:01pm
post #8 of 38

i had a lady call me about a cake... she told me oh my firend was going to do it for $150.00... I was charging her $200 (a cake for 70 people)... she then tells me oh ill talk t my boyfriend... i called her a few days laters and she told me.. oh i got someone to do it for $180.00...

so i told her.. ok, if you need another cake, call me, but keep in mind the next time the price will be $3.00 a slice.

people are too much sometimes... i mean $20.oo really... oh and i had lowered my price $10 and gave her free delivery... never again

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sweetcravings Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 10:11pm
post #9 of 38

I'm sorry you are dealing with this. I guess i'm just sending you a big hug. I know how this feels as just a few weeks back something similar happened to me. I quoted a cake for a woman, spent at least an hour going over design, started elements of the cake only for her to call me and cancel five days after because, "my sister doesn't want to spend tHAT much on a cake". I was royally pissed. I had already made the fondant blocks etc.. After all that she calls me the next day begging me to do the cake afterall, "my sister changed her mind". I was relieved but very upset by it all.
Then there is my sister..spent hours going over design etc.. only for her to say in the end..i don't want to spend that much.
So i completely agree with Indydebi advise!!! That will be the first question out of my mouth from here on out. If they give me some ridiculous price i can send them on their merry way and no time of mine with be wasted.

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becklynn Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 10:13pm
post #10 of 38

Your price is fair, I mean that's a big order with fondant work, plus delivery!!!
She probably told her husband the price at the last minute and he blew a gasket! Maybe she spent way too much on the rest of the party!

People who don't do cakes (I call'em cake muggles) just don't get it!

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apetricek Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 10:15pm
post #11 of 38

thanks for the support!!! You guys are the best....I always ask a budget and always send a contract and get a deposit. This time I didn't do the contact because she is a friend of a friend and has had my cakes in the past. I assumed she knew what she was getting in to as far as price when she contacted me. I know the friend thing shouldn't be a factor, and yet another lesson I have learned in the cake world....send a contract NO MATTER WHAT!!!! SO at this point whatever...I think I may update my policy page that if a cake is cancelled 3 days before that at least half of the cake will be charged if not the whole thing! Thanks again!!! thumbs_up.gif

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Deb_ Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 10:57pm
post #12 of 38

Unfortunately it's a real tough financial time that we're in.

I'm just happy for you that she didn't cancel it the day before it was due, when most of the cake would have been started.
Her husband's response was probably something like "that's a weeks budget for groceries". (that's what my DH would immediately think, he's a finance guy) He doesn't mind though, when I CHARGE that for my cakes!

I've been seeing this sort of thing for about a month......especially with All- Occasion cakes. I think people that don't care about "custom cakes" for a Birthday, Shower, etc., will be scaling back on these or going to "warehouse cakes".

I think indy's advice is right on.......when we get a new client that wants a specific cake, first thing we should ask is "what's your budget for this cake?".

Than we don't waste our time or theirs.

Your price for that cake was very fair........I don't think it was that at all


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BlueDevil Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 11:08pm
post #13 of 38

Yes, you are out of your mind looney bats-in-the-belfry crazy. icon_surprised.gif


Are you going to drive 3 hours and 100+ miles for $25???? icon_cool.gif

You will lose money on gas, let alone your time.

Brush the dust of this loser off your feet...your talent is wasted on such a provincial lout! icon_evil.gif

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SugaredUp Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 11:25pm
post #14 of 38

The OP did ask her budget, if I am reading it right. She just decided at the last minute not to pay. There could be another reason going on. She could have expected you to lower your price so as not to lose the sale. This happened to me recently with a customer - and I wouldn't play along. Once I told her I was booked, she was begging me to take her order, but before that she was manipulating (trying to) me like crazy.

Or maybe she just decided she got caught up in the idea of it and realized she can't afford it.

Did you try suggesting some alternatives? Such as her picking it up (no delivery fee), icing it in BC instead of fondant (assuming your price would be less for BC), maybe placing an inedible Elmo topper on the cake?

Unless you're just DONE with her (as I was with mine), I would try suggesting some cost savers. Show her some alternatives and see what she says.

Good luck! Oh - and definitely put a clause in your contract about no refunds on the deposit after X amount of days... FOR SURE

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poshcakedesigns Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 11:28pm
post #15 of 38

Very reasonable price - I just made a cake like that but mine was round.

When someone calls or emails me for a cake quote I let them know right off the bat I charge XX amount per serving and I also ask what their budget is. Sometimes I'm able to make them something within their budget and sometimes not.

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cathywood99 Posted 14 Oct 2008 , 11:28pm
post #16 of 38

I must be cheap. I just did a 3 tier cake and 3) half sheets for $200 and didn't charge gas money and drove 15 miles to deliver and set up. I would be laughed at if I charged $4 a serving. That is just nuts. I guess we live in two totally different worlds.

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Deb_ Posted 15 Oct 2008 , 12:07am
post #17 of 38
Originally Posted by cathywood99

I must be cheap. I just did a 3 tier cake and 3) half sheets for $200 and didn't charge gas money and drove 15 miles to deliver and set up. I would be laughed at if I charged $4 a serving. That is just nuts. I guess we live in two totally different worlds.

No, you're being laughed at for giving your talent away, not to mention, time, ingredients, utilities etc. If people can charge $4 a serving and get it, why shouldn't they? I'm not working for free and most people here who sell cakes for a living would agree with me.

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poshcakedesigns Posted 15 Oct 2008 , 12:23am
post #18 of 38

No, you're being laughed at for giving your talent away, not to mention, time, ingredients, utilities etc. If people can charge $4 a serving and get it, why shouldn't they? I'm not working for free and most people here who sell cakes for a living would agree with me.[/quote]

My thoughts exactly. Everything is going up - it cost gas to go to the store to pick up supplies not to mention the time involved with having to go and pick things up, then make the cake and clean up (why give away your time). Once you sit and down and calculate expenses and time then you can justify $4 per serving. Oh and let's not give our talent away. WM can't make our cakes.

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TC123 Posted 15 Oct 2008 , 12:47am
post #19 of 38

JMHO, I think your pricing is very reasonable (especially for your area), and that you just happened to have a customer who does not see the value of all the talent and hard work that goes into creating these confections. I'm not being facetious towards your customer. It's just there are those out there who teeter on the balance of wanting something spectacular, yet finding it hard to believe that a cake IS indeed a lot more than flour, eggs and sugar. icon_wink.gif

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apetricek Posted 15 Oct 2008 , 1:56am
post #20 of 38

I know it all has to do with where you live...people have to understand that. I know that New York City isn't going to charge what some little town will charge. I did tons of research for my pricing and I am in range with the local "good" bakeries, if not sometimes under. Most of my customers have no problem with $4.00 a serving, for custom work and for a cake that is actually good. They realize that they have to pay for the custom I said if you want a custom paint job you aren't going to go to Maaco for it! In fact she is the first person I have had in a long time that has had an issue. I think this is just the case where she got too wowed by the cake, and then realized it was just too much, which is just annoys me. I think people see these supermarket cakes and then just assume that any cake should be in that price range...yeah if you want a mass produced piece of S**T!!!
cathywood99.....As far as not getting paid for delivery I think that is just nuts. One it is putting miles on my vehicle, my gas, my time which I think is the most important...that is time that I could be spending with my kids. So I don't see a problem charging for delivery and think everyone that doesn't should rethink it! Why shouldn't your time be valuable?????

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indydebi Posted 15 Oct 2008 , 2:04am
post #21 of 38

cathywood99, you're not the far from me ... just a couple of hours.

Assuming you are correctly calling the 12x18 a half sheet, and each one serves 54, then 3 of them would serve 162. No idea how many the 3-tier cake serves, but if we assume the smallest version (6/8/10), that serves 12/24/38 = 64 + the 162 = 226 servings .... for $200.

89 cents a serving. icon_eek.gif Subtract the gas for delivery and it's even less. If your 3-tier served more than 62, then you pretty much did this cake(s) for free.

Wabash IND, as of the 2000 census, has a median income between $34K and $44k per household/family (per Wikipedia). While that's not huge, it's not poverty stricken, either. These are higher income levels than my hometown of Richmond IND and I get brides from Richmond paying my price all the time....and they drive over an hour to do it. So my pricing is NOT because I'm "in a big city". Small towners with lower incomes pay it.

And they will in your area, too. If you offer a higher quality cake than the grocery store ... with designs that can't be purchased in a grocery store, then you can get the price for it.

I mean, someone wants a fondant covered 3 tier cake with luster dusted pearls ..... but they tell you "I'm not paying that price!" ..... You simply tell them, "Fine. See what the local grocery will charge you for that. Oh wait! The grocery store doesn't DO that kind of cake do they!" icon_twisted.gifthumbs_up.gif

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playingwithsugar Posted 15 Oct 2008 , 2:11am
post #22 of 38

Here's my 2 centavos -

As I think you already know, I also live in PA. Depending upon the product you offer (scratch vs boxed mix, shortening-based or meringue-based icings), and what section of the state you live in, you might not be charging enough.

Now, if you live on one of the more financially depressed areas (hate using that phrase, but unemployment looms over this state like Mordor over Middle-Earth), then your price is correct for the work and features. I do not personally sell cakes, but I do communicate with enough decorators here, and their prices, to give you a close guess-timate. In fact, I know two people in small areas who wouldn't touch that cake for less than $5 per serve, with that they use shortening-based icing or Bettercreme.

If you live closer to Philly or Pittsburgh, our two largest cities, then my honest opinion is that $4 per serve for that cake is a steal.

Stick to your prices, and remember, you are not selling cars, you are selling cakes. Your prices are not negotiable.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

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CakeMommyTX Posted 15 Oct 2008 , 2:25am
post #23 of 38

I've had that happen before, it seems the husband never wants to spend the money (nothing against husbands thumbs_up.gif ).
I've even had women pay for the cake in seperate transactions so when their husbands see the bank statement or credit card bill they don't freak about 200$ for a cake, they just see a few charges here and there icon_razz.gif .
I've learned the hard way to give the estimated price up front, make sure the customer knows how much per serving and if there will be any extra charge for detail work.
But even whe you do that you will still have the customers who are sticker shocked when you tell them the final price, when all they had to do was a little muliplication icon_confused.gif .
And I don't think you charged too much, it is right around what I would have charged.
Sorry this happened, hopefully she will come through.

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apetricek Posted 15 Oct 2008 , 2:26am
post #24 of 38

thank you playingwithsugar for making me feel better....yes I am closer to Philly about 45 minutes north. I am in a pretty "well off" area. The cheapest house you can get is for $350,000 if you are lucky. Most of them are more in the $500,000 range. Many of my neighbors commute to Philly or New York so most earn well into the 6 figure for them $4.00 a serving really isn't a "big deal". I have had numerous people tell me for my work, and my type of cake I don't charge enough. Yes I use shortening based icing with yes, real butter. I make everything from scratch, and only use the best no-name stuff. I have a large client base in north Jersey that feel "they get what they pay for", and to them being used to paying New York prices, I am a STEAL!!! thumbs_up.gif
hey indydebi...I agree completely with you, most of my stuff they would NEVER be able to get in any grocery store, and even the "uppity" bakery here that everyone is always referring to won't do a lot of the stuff I do. People that used to frequent there say, yeah "their" stuff was nice as far as looks, but you could bang a nail with the cake, or need a gallon of water to wash it down! I refuse to bargain with people...I don't have to and I refuse to. I have a ton of customers, and know there will be plenty more to come!!!

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playingwithsugar Posted 15 Oct 2008 , 2:27am
post #25 of 38

You're in Bucks or Montco?

Theresa icon_smile.gif

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apetricek Posted 15 Oct 2008 , 2:41am
post #26 of 38

I am in Bucks county...almost upper bucks

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FromScratch Posted 15 Oct 2008 , 2:41am
post #27 of 38

You did that for a very reasonable fee.. it's definitely not you.. it's the customer. Now for my schpeal about getting paid well in advance..

I require a 50% non-refundable deposit to book and the balance is due a full 4 weeks before the event date. If you require a cake with less than 4weeks notice then the full amount must be paid in cash to book your cake. All monies paid are date specific and non-refundable. No exceptions. My justification? If I book a date.. it's lost income if you back out. I stopped selling that date the second you booked.. and with 4 weeks to the date.. I am not booking that date that I could have booked had you not wasted my time. Sorry.. but this is business.. you try to mess with my paycheck.. and you will get put in your place.

This will take care of all of your problems with people backing out at the last minute since "last minute" is 4 weeks before you start baking.. before you have bought much (if anything) for the cake.

I also charge $2/mile one way for delivery with a $25 minimum. My time is worth plenty.. as well as the more expensive commercial insurance on my car.

To cathywood99.. who's to say you'd get laughed at for charging what you are worth? For the cakes that you are describing (if it's like what Debi stated), it would have cost me more than what you charged just to make the cakes. No way I am working for free. I live in a smaller town too and my cakes start at $5/serving. No one laughs at me and many people pay it. I couldn't justify the work it takes and the time it takes away from my family for pennies or worse.. negative income. You never know what the market will bear until you try. If you are offering a killer product that no one else is offering you can charge much more than you think you can.

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playingwithsugar Posted 15 Oct 2008 , 2:56am
post #28 of 38

Yes, I know that area well. I have friends who live in Coopersburg. You are so right in what you are charging, and should actually charge more.

Don't let this ninny get you down. Stick with your out-of-town customers from now on. They know how to appreciate good work at a better price than they would have paid for it if they still lived on the "other side of the Delaware."

And really, when it comes down to it, it's only cake. There are far more important things in our lives which can be stressing us out, and thank God they're not.

My philosophy about cake is:

"I do not eat, sleep, and breathe cake. Do not ask to see pics of my cakes, they are not my children. Ask to see pics of my kids, and I will show you something worth showing and bragging about."

I learned that philosophy from a master decorator who is always in extremely high demand, both for product and for teaching. She takes time off for family functions and vacations, and has no regrets about the customers she could have had that weekend.

Theresa icon_smile.gif

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ATCakes Posted 15 Oct 2008 , 3:01am
post #29 of 38

For all of that work that is already a discounted price!! Sometimes I wish Walmart/Sam's Club and any other warehouse store would go away. Customers can go to them, but then they have to settle for the stock flavors and designs. Custom work don't come cheap!!!

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pinklesley1 Posted 15 Oct 2008 , 3:27am
post #30 of 38

i am in this business bc i love it... but you know sometimes we forget what we are worth... what our time is worth... and the talent that we have and the passion that we put into our work...

the following story is not meant to bad mouth ne1...

i just want to say that i once ordered a 2 tier cake from walmart... and although i asked for pink with green dots and green with pink dots... the dots were retarded looking, the cake was airbrushed... and uneven... it tasted ok... it was vanilla cake with strawberry filling... ok so about an hour into the party... 3 hours after i picked up the cake.. the entire back of the cake fell off... i went into cake decorator mode... and fixed it with some sugar flowers that i had.... and then made it the front of the cake... oh and i had to order the cake like 4 weeks prior and pay in full the day that i ordered the cake... no exeptions... (SP)

this was for my engagement party... and it cost me $90 for a cake for 50 people...
and it wasnt fondant... it wasnt even buttercreme... it tasted like commercial vanilla frosting out of the tub... but i like that (im wierd i know) ... but you figure that with tax i paid almost $2 a slice, and i picked it up, and it fell apart... (would nt have happened with fndant)...

this is why i made my wedding cake... oh and it wasnt hot bc it was indoors... in ac...

so sometimes even if they go to a big name place... they may pay almost the same... i am in miami.. i dont know if they charge the same everywhere... i charge $3 a slice... but i dont have a ton of overhead bc i rent out kitchen space from a corporation which kinda specializes in renting out space... (I was lucky that I found them)... and my office is in my house...

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